DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is one of the great shows of modern times. The series, which chronicles life in the Seven Kingdoms and the never-ending maneuvers for the Iron Throne, stands out for its mix of intrigue, wildly appealing characters, shrewd politics, sex, dragons and occasional violence. If you take away the dragons and the wildly appealing characters, then it’s actually quite similar to the happenings in L.A.’s political circles.
This may sound like a stretch, but really, it’s not. A surprising number of Downtown players have contemporaries in the series adapted from the books by George R.R. Martin.
Below are eight Downtown individuals and their “Game of Thrones” counterparts (the show's fifth season begins in the spring). No one should feel bad if they get matched to a dead GOT player because prominent characters routinely get killed off on the show. The fate for City Hall figures is worse: Many go on to become lobbyists.
Mayor Eric Garcetti is… Jon Snow: Like Garcetti, Snow has a “Back to Basics” agenda: Protect the mountain of ice known as “The Wall” at all costs. Snow’s effort to fight off the northern tribes (the Wildlings) and the army of undead (the White Walkers) has similarities to Garcetti’s battle against a batch of unions seeking raises and benefits that he says L.A. can’t afford. Whether it’s catapults and swords or negotiating pensions and healthcare contributions, the fights are cutthroat and all sides always suffer losses.
Both characters have a pedigree — Snow’s father is Winterfell boss Ned Stark and Garcetti is the son of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti. Additionally, each is growing as a leader before our eyes, and one senses far bigger things in both their futures.
Big Difference: Garcetti, unlike Snow, never had sex with a Wildling woman in an ice cave. At least I don’t think he did.
Council President Herb Wesson is… Tywin Lannister: Neither Wesson nor the patriarch of the Lannister clan officially run the realm, but each pulls the strings that make other powerful figures dance. Wesson uses treats and punishments (council assignments, controlling the agenda, etc.) to keep the other 14 council members in line, while Lannister bats about his heirs and those who strive to stay in the good graces of the king. Each faces occasional challenges, but is usually two steps ahead of any competitor.
Both also understand how to perform in public. A couple years ago Wesson made it a point to tell 300 Downtowners how anyone wanting to do business in L.A. must deal with the council, and not just the mayor. Lannister, meanwhile, rode herd at the murder trial of his own son, Tyrion.
Big Difference: Lannister (spoiler alert) got shot with a crossbow in the final episode of season four by Tyrion. Wesson remains in power… at least until a council member (possible spoiler alert) rises up to usurp his presidency.
City Attorney Mike Feuer is… Daenerys Targaryen: Is the young, fair-haired Mother of Dragons an equivalent of the veteran, mustachioed Feuer? Yes! Both command armies — Targaryen lords over the eunuch warriors the Unsullied and the for-hire Second Swords, while Feuer has more than 500 attorneys at his disposal. Each also fields frequent requests from constituents and metes out punishment to lawbreakers. Additionally, both get emotional when confronting certain moral issues — Feuer seethes at instances of homeless dumping, and Targaryen has ordered slave owners to be crucified.
They’re also both ambitious. Targaryen covets the Iron Throne, and few would bet against her ultimately reaching it. While the accomplished Feuer has never said so publicly, many believe he’s eyeing the mayor’s office.
Big Difference: Unlike Feuer, Targaryen has three dragons she can unleash. Unlike Targaryen, Feuer has a team of neighborhood prosecutors he can unleash.
Antonio Villaraigosa is… Tyrion Lannister: This may seem unfair to the character brilliantly played by Peter Dinklage, but consider: Villaraigosa rose from a humble upbringing to become Speaker of the Assembly and later mayor of L.A. Tyrion never let his dwarfism stop him from becoming a power player. Both are charismatic, well-spoken, like to party and adore the spotlight. Each also recorded a signature victory: Villaraigosa got voters to pass Measure R, a sales tax increase that led to a local mass transit construction boom, while Tyrion helped crush the invading naval forces in the “Battle of Blackwater Bay” episode in season two.
Yet, each is often also his own worst enemy and overestimates his status — Villaraigosa actually thinks he’s Senate material. Additionally, both suffered by enjoying the spoils that status provides (remember AnVil’s Cabo encounter with Charlie Sheen?) and had unwise sexual dalliances — Villaraigosa’s affair with Mirthala Salinas started his downfall, while Tyrion’s relationship with the prostitute Shae came back to bite him hard.
Big Difference: Tyrion never counted the number of TV cameras at his press conferences.
John Pérez is… Robb Stark: Pérez, the cousin of Villaraigosa, lived Downtown and became Speaker of the State Assembly. Stark, the son of Ned Stark, commanded an army and fought to avenge his father’s death. People whispered that Pérez could be a councilman or one day mayor. People thought Stark would become king.
Then, kabam! Pérez came in third in the race for State Controller, somehow finishing behind Betty Yee despite far outspending her. Stark got stealthily and brutally murdered in the infamous Red Wedding scene in season three. Few observers saw either result coming.
Big Difference: Pérez may run for another office one day. But after getting his cookies taken by Yee, is that wise?
Gloria Molina is… Stannis Baratheon: Stannis, the younger brother of the late King Robert (he died in a hunting accident in season one), believes he’s the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Longtime Supervisor Molina thinks she should represent Council District 14. Both can raise money and assemble armies. Each understands power and has a history of dressing down or punishing underlings.
Both are now also engaged in the fight of their lives: Stannis, with advice from the Red Woman, last season attacked the Wildlings and is primed to move on the Iron Throne. Molina, with advice from campaign consultant Fred Register, is challenging incumbent Councilman José Huizar, and may have the mayor’s office in her ultimate sights.
Big Difference: Molina never cut off the fingers of a supporter who did something she disliked, as Stannis did to his aide Davos Seaworth. At least I don’t think she did.
John Deasy is… Khal Drogo: Drogo was chief of the Dothraki people. Deasy was superintendent of the LAUSD. Both had a relatively brief but highly eventful run. Each acted forcefully and strove to better conditions for his people. Neither backed down from a fight.
Both were also felled in part by their own decisions. Drogo refused treatment for a wound that became infected. Deasy rushed through a questionably orchestrated plan to get iPads in the hands of every LAUSD student. At the moment of truth, neither had the supporters needed to stay afloat. Drogo died and Deasy lost his LAUSD job.
Big Difference: Drogo rarely wore a shirt.
Donald Sterling is… King Joffrey: At one time, Sterling and young King Joffrey had it all. Sterling owned the Clippers, sat courtside at games and reveled in his real estate empire. Joffrey assumed the throne after King Robert died and ruled the Seven Kingdoms, albeit in a mercurial and sometimes vicious manner. Each was super rich. People sucked up to both of them.
Yet Sterling and Joffrey were royal nut jobs, with a seemingly bottomless talent to offend supporters and alienate the populace at large. Their decisions were routinely questionable (those ads Sterling placed in the Times), their behavior boorish. Sterling finally Stivianoed himself out of the Clippers. Joffrey proved so hateful that he got himself poisoned at his own wedding.
Big Difference: Actually, there’s not much difference.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2015